Monday, October 10, 2011

THE RETURN TO THE HIGH(ER) COUNTRY

The Navigator, Sherry Shazam, the Wood-Man and I have completed our time in the Low Country of South Carolina and are safely back home in the High(er) Country of Western North Carolina. I indicate High(er) for the benefit of those fine folk living out west whose low places are higher than my high places. Still, High or High(er), it is good to be home. We were welcomed home to a gorgeous view as the mountains have put on their fall colors and are resplendent in yellows, reds, and shades in between. Also, the temperatures are cooler.

Zeke at Palmetto Bluff

(My snazzy new Fat Cyclist jersey got a nice workout in Palmetto Bluff)

We had a great time on our week long getaway. My overall summary goes something like this…

 

CYCLING THE LOW COUNTRY OF S.C.

I’m just back from a week long stay on Hilton Head Island during which I was able to enjoy the many cycling opportunities in this League of American Bicyclists (LAB) Silver level award winning community. To attain the Silver level award from LAB, a community must have invested much time, energy, and infrastructure throughout all phases of the community.

On the island, bike paths take you everywhere that a public road goes. In addition, a number of the privately owned developments on the island allow cyclists to spin through their properties. The public paths are used quite heavily by tourists and locals alike. Riding to local restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and governmental units takes no more energy than jumping on your bike and pedaling. Of course, the island isn’t comprised of hills and mountains that we enjoy in our local topography. The bike paths are uniformly separated from the higher speed traffic areas such as the William Hilton Parkway so, other than bumping into another cyclist, you are relatively safe on two wheels. You do have to be careful when crossing entrances to businesses or major intersections. Signage along the way helps to direct you in the safest manner possible.

My friend Woody and I enjoyed a nice 8 mile (one way) ride to the local Barnes and Noble store and then caught up on a bit of Low Country history by visiting a cemetery where African-American soldiers in the Union Army had been buried. On that trip, we enjoyed not only a fitness ride but also added to our sense of history without spending money on gasoline or adding carbon to the atmosphere.

The real treat, however, turned out to be off the island. We asked for local riding suggestions from the guys at the Road Fish bike shop near where we were staying. They directed us to Palmetto Bluff just outside of Bluffton, SC. This large development, in excess of 30,000 acres, integrated the needs for cyclists and alternative forms of transportation from the start. A simple registration process at the main gate opened the entire path system up to us during our stay.

We enjoyed many miles of riding on paved and packed gravel roads. Riding along under the large oak trees with hanging Spanish Moss was a great experience. We rode beside waterways populated by White Herons roosting colonially, numerous markers indicating the biodiversity of the area, and along the cobbled streets of the small village in Palmetto Bluff. Whether riding for fitness or for the simple pleasure of being outside and enjoying nature, this was a wonderful adventure.

Outside of the private development, bike paths and bike lanes connected the historic section of Bluffton with the more rural parts of the county and with new businesses under development. Clearly, those communities have come to value cycling and are putting their money where their values are!

With forethought and planning, we can certainly provide similar quality of life opportunities for our citizens and visitors alike.

For more information, visit http://gr8smokieszeke.blogspot.com and www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org . You may also link to Zeke’s Great Smoky Mountain 2 Wheeled Adventures under Opinion on the Mountaineer’s website.

 

I was most pleased with my Salsa Fargo and its performance on the various road surfaces upon which we rode. I was also quite happy to be freed from stuffing everything I wanted on a ride into either one of my 3 rear jersey pockets and/or into my small seat bag. The Carradice Long Flap Nelson seat bag really made the riding experience less cumbersome.

Just a brief word of thanks to the guys at Road Fish bike shop for their hospitality and assistance as the Wood-Man and I made them our “home away from home” during our time on the island!

Up Next…

The next several weeks are going to be filled with finalizing our Haywood County Comprehensive Bike Plan, presenting it to the public, and seeking final approval from our local County Board of Commissioners. It’s going to be a challenging and energetic time! I hope you’ll “come along for the ride.”

Until later,

- Zeke

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